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How the OSI Model Works

The model actually is used to describe how data that’s generated by a user, such as an email message, moves through a number of intermediary forms until it is converted into a stream of data that can actually be placed on the network media and sent out over the network. The model also describes how a communication session is established between two devices, such as two computers, on the network. Because other types of devices, such as printers and routers, can be involved in network communication, devices (including computers) on the network are actually referred to as nodes. Therefore, a client computer on the network or a server on the network would each be referred to as a node.

When data is sent by a network node (for example, a computer sending an email message, as already mentioned), that data moves down through the OSI stack and then is transmitted over the network media. When the data is received by a node, such as another computer on the network, it moves up through the OSI stack until it is again in a form that can be accessed by a user on that computer.


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